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Dr Ivo Coelho – Falling Cherry Blossoms

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Falling Cherry Blossoms, an Easter message – Dr Ivo Coelho, Philosopher, Priest, Author and Direzione Generale Opere Don Bosco, Rome.

I was in Japan recently and was sorry to have missed the cherry flowering by a few days. What is it that makes falling cherry blossoms so powerful and such a national event? Infinite nostalgia, perhaps, beauty in death, harbinger of life? Arakida Moritake (1472-1549) writes:

Rakka eda ni
Kaeru to mireba
Kocho Kana

I thought I saw the fallen flower
Returning to its branch
Only to find it was a butterfly.

The earth is crammed full of resurrection. I think of Gerard Manley Hopkins and his impossible poems that grow upon you.

The resurrection of Christ: not easy to understand, even for one who believes. Certainly not enough to understand it as an isolated miracle, the miracle of a dead man coming alive.

For me, the resurrection stands for all that is life and life-giving. It is peace, forgiveness, brotherhood. It means that the last word belongs to goodness and kindness, mercy and love, not to defeat and death. It means that James Foley is greater than those who slit his throat. It means that love is a many-splendoured thing. It means that life makes sense – not the sense of happy endings but something far more profound and powerful, something that opens up for us if only we have the courage to believe in it, accept it and live by it.

Few of those who read this might believe in Jesus or in his resurrection. And yet there is a taking of sides: on behalf of love and gentleness, and triumph in weakness, or on behalf of hatred and power and violence. Not that the Christian churches have always lived by this faith, but perhaps they are learning. The resurrection of Jesus has an import that goes beyond.

Enough! the Resurrection,
A heart’s-clarion! Away grief’s gasping, | joyless days, dejection.
Across my foundering deck shone
A beacon, an eternal beam. | Flesh fade, and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm; | world’s wildfire, leave but ash:
In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, | since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, | patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.[1]

[1] Gerard Manley Hopkins, That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection.

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Father Ivo Coelho earned a PhD in philosophy at the Gregorian University, Rome, for his work on “The Development of the Notion of the Universal Viewpoint in Bernard Lonergan: From Insight to Method in Theology” (1994). He was principal of Divyadaan: Salesian Institute of Philosophy (1988-90), Rector (1994-2002), secretary of the Association of Christian Philosophers of India (2000-02), and provincial of the Mumbai province of the Salesians of Don Bosco (2002-08). Currently he is Rector of the Studium Theologicum Salesianum in Jerusalem, while continuing to edit Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education. Among his publications are Hermeneutics and Method: The ‘Universal Viewpoint’ in Bernard Lonergan(2001), “‘Et Judaeus et Graecus e methodo:’ The Transcultural Mediation of Christian Meanings and Values in Lonergan” (2000), and “Lonergan and Indian Thought” (2007). He has recently edited Brahman and Person: Essays by Richard De Smet (2010), and Violence and its Victims: A Challenge to Philosophizing in the Indian Context (ACPI vol. 11, 2010), while Understanding Śaṅkara: Essays by Richard De Smetis in the press.

© Ivo Coelho

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